The Vigilance Bureau (VB) had falsely implicated a Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officer, Tarsem Chand, posted as secretary in the Regional Transport Authority in Faridkot district, in a corruption case in connivance with two private transporters in June last year.
According to the findings of the probe conducted by VB deputy inspector general Surjit Singh, Chand was implicated in connivance with Muktsar-based private transporter Gursahib Singh Brar and complainant Baaj Singh, another transporter from Muktsar. The findings are a part of the probe carried out after Chand filed a representation for a fair inquiry in August.
Officer’s driver is main accused
On 23 June, 2020, Chand along with his driver and Punjab Police head constable Amarjit Singh were arrested by the Mohali VB team, led by deputy superintendent of police Harwinderpal Singh, for accepting ₹15,000 from Baaj to run his tourist buses bearing Rajasthan registration numbers in Punjab and also to ensure that they are not challaned. In July, the PCS Officers’ Association condemned Chand’s arrest and demanded that the case be cancelled.
The probe report, accessed by Hindustan Times, grants a clean chit to Chand and recommends that he be discharged from the case. It says driver Amarjit Singh is the main accused and there is no “meaningful evidence” against Chand, who has been implicated due to a personal rivalry of the complainant, the transporters and aides.
Recordings helped nail the lie
The report says that Baaj approached Amarjit on June 16 and offered a monthly bribe to him, saying he had paid another RTA office employee, Suresh Kumar, too. Amarjit agreed to help. Baaj recorded their conversation and approached Mohali vigilance DSP Harwinderpal Singh. Baaj claimed that Chand was demanding the money for himself through Amarjit.
“It’s clear from the recording of the conversation between Amarjit and Baaj that Chand never asked the transporter to meet his driver had no pending work of the complainant. Without taking the recording on the case file, the earlier investigating officer registered a corruption case against the RTA merely based on the complainant’s apprehension. Chand never directly or indirectly sought money,” the report says.
“During the VB trap, Baaj kept asking Amarjit to get him to meet Chand. The VB team didn’t recover the money for 90 minutes (which should have been done immediately) after taking Amarjit into custody. Instead, the VB team took Amarjit to Chand’s office after being asked by Baaj,” the report says.
After Baaj met Chand in his office and gave the list of his buses to the RTA, saying whatever you asked for as service (sewa) has been given to Amarjit, the VB team recovered the amount from Amarjit.
Private transporter hatched conspiracy
The report says Gursahib Singh, the owner of Darvesh transport, Muktsar, along with his brother, Rajinder Singh, frequently visited the RTA office in Faridkot and knew employees there. Gursahib is known to both Baaj and Karandeep Singh, a reader of the Mohali VB DSP. The three were in touch when the trap for Chand was laid.
It is learnt that when Chand was posted as the Faridkot RTA, a case to register a VIP number, PBQ-0001, came to his office. Gursahib was interested in the number and was upset with the RTA for not acceding to his request for the number.
“Gursahib was miffed when Chand transferred some old employees of the RTA office, resulting in his losing his grip on the office and thus began his rivalry with Chand. Gursahib hatched the conspiracy with Baaj and VB officials,” the report says.
Call details showed Karandeep, Gursahib and Baaj were in touch with each other on the day the trap was laid. Gursahib and Karandeep exchanged 21 calls between 8am and 11.30pm on June 23.
₹2 lakh placed in RTA’s car by driver
On the recovery of ₹2 lakh from Tarsem’s car, the report says CCTV footage shows Amarjit keeping a packet in the RTA’s car at the Faridkot deputy commissioner’s office. The amount belongs to an RTA office clerk, Sukhwinder Singh, who alleged that Chand demanded the money. Sukhwinder withdrew the ₹2 lakh from a bank 13 days before the trap but handed over the amount to Amarjit only on the day the trap was laid.
“An official witness in the case stated on August 5 that the bribe was recovered from Amarjit and it was the driver himself who handed over the car keys to VB officials after which they recovered ₹2 lakh. The information about ₹2 lakh to the complainant and Gursahib led to suspicion that the additional amount in the RTA’s car without his knowledge was to create additional evidence against him”, the report adds.
VB officials mum on report
Deputy inspector general Surjit Singh was not available for comment, while DSP Harwinderpal Singh said the matter is still being probed and the Mohali court is yet to give its verdict. Vigilance head constable Karandeep Singh feigned ignorance, too.
Gursahib denied the allegations and claimed the VB had caught Chand and now wants to give him the clean chit so it’s blaming the transporters. Baaj said he stood by his complaint and alleged that the VB was under pressure from Chand. He said that he has filed an RTI application for the inquiry report and will approach the Punjab and Haryana high court against the VB for giving a clean chit to Chand.
June 16, 2020: Complainant Baaj Singh strikes monthly bribe deal with Faridkot RTA Tarsem Chand’s driver Amarjit Singh
June 22: Baaj files complaint with Mohali vigilance bureau against Tarsem and Amarjit
June 23: Vigilance bureau lays trap, arrests Tarsem and Amarjit for accepting ₹15,000
July 3: PCS association condemns Tarsem’s arrest and takes up matter with Punjab chief secretary Vini Mahajan
August 18: Tarsem files representation with vigilance. DIG Surjit Singh assigned inquiry
January 2021: Vigilance probe finds Tarsem innocent.
In 2011, the vigilance bureau falsely implicated excise and taxation officer Ranjit Singh, who later committed suicide.
In 2010, a Moga drug inspector in health department, Balram Luthra, was falsely implicated in a corruption case.
Strap: Transporters conspired with vigilance staff and laid trap last year: Probe report